During the fall as students return to school, Bishop Edward K. Braxton begins to fill his calendar with pastoral visits to diocesan Catholic elementary and high schools. This year is no different.
During his visits this fall, the bishop spoke to young people about the need to vote, to be informed about issues and that neither the bishop nor other clergy should tell people how to vote but that an informed voter, casting a ballot is not only a right but also a responsibility. One more school visit at Holy Trinity in Fairview Heights at the end of November will finish this group before scheduling the next visits.
On Oct. 27, the bishop visited Sr. Thea Bowman Catholic School where he was celebrant and homilist at a Mass during his pastoral visit. In addition to students, faculty and staff, donors, benefactors and volunteers also attended the liturgy where the bishop thanked them for their help in sustaining the school. He also told them the story of the school’s namesake, including that Sr. Thea Bowman was a personal friend of his.
Principal, Daniel Nickerson, said he is happy to have visitors to the school “because once they visit our school, they realize that Sr. Thea’s spirit is alive and well in all that we do. By focusing on faith formation and the idea of being a Peacemaker first, our students build a unique relationship with God and a strong self-assurance that helps them navigate so many challenges in life.”
With more than 125 students, Sr. Thea Bowman keeps pace with the enrollment of other Catholic schools in the diocese. Some important facts about the school’s students: 100 percent graduate from high school, with many of them enrolling in Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville.
About 95 percent of graduates also go on to college after high school.
While more than 90 percent of the students receive Title I services and free or reduced lunch, they make great strides during their time as students at the school.
“Our holistic learning approach of language arts, math, science, religion and Spanish is integrated with our education through music and the arts,” Roberta Trost, advancement director, said. “Every student plays the violin, participates in liturgical praise dance, ballroom dance, choir and visual arts.”
Before Bishop Braxton visited the school, teachers reviewed his pastoral letter with the students.
While he noted the pastoral was meant for adults, the bishop said “students had some very good questions.”
Reflecting on the bishop’s visit, Nickerson said: “I am always amazed how we see strong academic growth after our students start to know who they are and what they are supposed to be doing in life based on the values we work so hard to instill in them.”